In early 2014, the Wooden Sky were ready for a fresh start. Burned out after four months on the road, the Toronto roots-rock outfit had cut ties with their label, seen bassist Andrew Wyatt leave the band and decided to put their fate in their own hands. They founded their own record label, created their own backyard studio space and made a new record.
That record, Let's Be Ready, the band's fourth and the follow-up to 2012's Every Child a Daughter, Every Moon a Sun, arrives on September 2 via the band's Chelsea Records, and you can stream it now over here on Exclaim.ca. According to frontman Gavin Gardiner, the album reflects the period it came from.
"I've often said that records are a snapshot of where people are at the time," he tells Exclaim! "There's a sense of contentedness or stability — a feeling of being able to stand still for a second and appreciate the things around me."
Though Gardiner wrote much of the record at home in Toronto and at his girlfriend's parents' 300-acre farm in Quebec, a good number of tunes were penned while on tour. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the album's lyrics detail Greyhound bus rides ("Our Hearts Were Wrong"), lovers parting ("Kansas City") and the troubles of a nomad ("Shake for Me").
Let's Be Ready's sonic aesthetic also stems from life on the road. Gardiner says the band wanted to capture a rawer, more energetic sound, resisting the temptation to sand off the record's rough edges. "We talked about wanting to do something that was more like our live show," he explains, "which, thinking more about it, is because the songs, [played live], are more evolved."
Gardiner discovered just how much the band's material had evolved over time when revisiting past records with new bassist Jon Hynes, who recently joined the band's current lineup of Gardiner, drummer Andrew Kekewich, multi-instrumentalist Simon Walker and occasional violinist Edwin Huizinga.
Together, they'll support the album with a two month Canadian tour this fall. "That'll be long enough for now," Gardiner says. "I was tempted to say, 'Let's go to Europe right after.' But that didn't work last time. So we'll come home for a couple of months, start making new music and then go to Europe and tour there afterward. We'll be rested and sane."
Along the way, the band will also focus on expanding Chelsea Records' roster, likely with acts the band has worked with. "The label puts more at stake," Gardiner says about releasing Let's Be Ready on the imprint. "There's a bit more weight attached to every decision, which is exciting. There's an extra fire. If we don't do it, it doesn't get done. We take things more… I don't know if 'seriously' is the right word. We're still musicians."
Stream all of Let's Be Ready over here and see the band's upcoming dates below.
09/02 Toronto, ON - Sonic Boom
09/12 Peterborough, ON - Red Dog Tavern
09/13-14 Ottawa, ON - Ottawa Folk Festival
09/16 Burnstown, ON - Neat Cafe
09/17 Montreal, QC - Pop Montreal @ Sala Rossa
09/18 Sudbury, ON - Townehouse
09/20 Thunder Bay, ON - Crocks
09/22 Swift Current, SK - Lyric Theatre
09/23 Regina, SK - Artesian On 13th
09/24 Edmonton, AB - Starlite
09/25 Banff, AB - The Club (banff Centre)
09/26 Nelson, BC - Spirit Bar (hume Hotel)
09/27 Vancouver, BC - Biltmore
09/29 Victoria, BC - 9one9
10/01 Calgary, AB - The Republik
10/2 Saskatoon, SK - Amigo's
10/4 Winnipeg, MB - Wecc
10/9 Kingston, ON – The Isabel At Queen's University
10/11 Dundas, ON - Dundas Valley Montessori School
10/16 Guelph, ON - Vinyl
10/17 Toronto, ON - Lee's Palace
10/18 Toronto, ON - Lee's Palace
10/21 Moncton, NB - Tide & Boar
10/22 Fredericton, NB - The Capital
10/23 Halifax, NS - Halifax Pop Explosion
10/24 Charlottetown, PE - Trailside Inn
10/25 Quebec City, QC - Le Cercle